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Want six-pack abs? Read this NOW!

Last updated on: August 26, 2011 19:15 IST

Want six-pack abs? Read this NOW!

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Shilpa Shet

Shilpa Shet talks to fitness experts from across the country and finds out just how you can get those coveted six-pack abs. And if they're worth it at all!

When was the last you looked at someone's six packs and said, "Wow! Wish I had those"?

If you've done it often, you are not strange and you are not alone. A lot of young people out there are seeing and thinking six packs, but does everyone have it?

More importantly, are there any benefits to being obsessed with six packs?

We got a mixed reaction on this from fitness experts. Rujuta Diwekar, the straight-speaking fitness diva says, "Discussing six packs over coffee shakes with chocolate sauce is definitely not a good trend. I would like to see a trend of cycling, gymming, working out, etc."

May be the young in the urban areas just dream and don't really get to building those muscles. Says Raman Pandit from Pune, "I go to the gym, but I am not "obsessed" with six packs. I go with my friends and because I feel very energetic the entire day."


Image: Sure you want those six-pack abs. Here's what you need to know
Photographs: Aamir Khan showed off his abs in Ghajini
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'I do want a body like one of those stars'

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On the other hand, Amit Sharma, a fitness expert from Indore, says, "Youngsters are obsessed with having six packs these days. This is because nowadays a six pack is associated with an attractive physique, thanks to Bollywood, and all teenagers want to look and feel food."

Vishal Singh, a college student from Lucknow says, "I am working out rigorously to get six packs. I am not 'obsessed' but I do want a body like one of those stars."

Sharma feels it is a good trend, if the six packs are achieved in a healthy way. Many young people come to his gym wanting to develop six packs.

And this is a topic that most experts can write epics on, and some really do write tomes.


Image: Emran Hashmi with Jacqueline Fernandez in Murder 2

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How to develop six packs the healthy way

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Of course, you do weights and you eat right. Rujuta elaborates, "Eating right, working out regularly, sleeping on time and having a healthy attitude towards your body and life."

Simple, but not-so-easy; there's a caveat.

Sharma explains, "If one removes his/her obsession of a six pack, a person can concentrate better on achieving a more holistic fitness level. Six pack abs can make you attractive; however it is better to focus on developing the whole body, one's cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, muscle balance, and flexibility."

The biggest enemy of the six-pack abs is fat.

One has to regulate the fat percentage in the body. We all know we have to kill the fat, reduce consumption, etc. But we don't really know what is ideal.


Image: Hrithik Roshan is one of the fittest actors in Bollywood today and flaunts his six-packs proudly

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'Know what your fat level is'

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Today, there are machines that calculate the total fat in your bodies. Walk into any fitness studio, gym, nutritional center and you can know the fat in your body immediately. It's not complicated and it is not invasive.

First, know what your fat level is. Sharma continues, "To get six-pack abs, you need to get your body fat percent between 8-10 per cent for men and between 15-17 per cent for women.

This is quite possible, but you need patience, hard work and discipline. You need to eat right and exercise using compound movements to start reducing your percent body fat. This is a healthy way to achieve a six pack."

Again, we know that it sounds easy. It means giving up those juicy friend chickens, that spicy, mouth-watering vada pav, that yummy biryani and we haven't even gone to desserts.

At least till you workout and get your body into shape, do what your instructor/trainer tells you to do and eat exactly what your nutritionist tells you to eat.

This phase can last anywhere between three months to a full year.


Image: John Abraham showed off his washboard abs in Dostana

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Why you shouldn't do steroids

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There are some who probably still don't get that body after a long, long time. These are the people who take the shortcuts.

And that is something that fitness experts totally warn against.

Both Sharma and Diwekar warn against fat burners and steroids.

The short term complications of fat burners:

  • Increase in the resting heart rate
  • Increase in the resting blood pressure
  • Lack of sleep

Long term complications: 

  • Malfunctioning of the thyroid
  • Seizures in extreme cases
  • Complications with the cardiovascular system

Steroids: The short term complications: 

  • Insomnia - difficulty in sleeping
  • Altered and increased appetite
  • Short term weight gain (fat gain) along with increase in the resting blood pressure and heart rate

Long-term complications:

  • Hormonal imbalance which can lead to hormonal disorders like diabetes along with cardiovascular complications, male pattern baldness.

That list can really give enthusiasts some food for thought. If you are finding it tough to achieve your goal, talk to your instructor/trainer. If you are still not convinced, change him/her.


Image: The man who started the trend -- Shah Rukh Khan -- does not have those six-pack abs anymore

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Do you really need six packs?

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Experts say that six packs are not the best barometer to indicate good health. While parameters change with different experts, they all agree that a healthy mind and body, and a lifestyle that supports both, is the key.

Diwkear says, "All of us are born with six-pack abs and our lifestyle can either hide it or make it visible to the naked eye. The truth is that fit people have a six-pack that's visible; it is most visible in people who indulge in physical labour. It's just that it lacks the glam factor."

She adds a warning, "A real-life six pack never looks half as glamorous or bronze as they look in pictures or movies."

Sharma says if you have your fat percentage in the body within permissible limits, you are healthy.

"One of the most important barometers for gauging fitness is the percent body fat that an individual has. When someone achieves 9-10% body fat, his six-pack become visible.

So, this can actually be used to gauge someone's percent body fat, which as we have seen earlier, is an important parameter for testing a person's fitness."


He too adds a word of caution, "A six-pack is not the be-all-and-end-all of all fitness monitoring tools."

Sharma leaves us with this thought, "Achieving six packs is possible. Work hard towards it. However, don't be too obsessed with it.

There are other things to focus on that will make you more attractive. Tell me, who will look better, a skinny man with a six pack, or a man with broad shoulders and chest, shapely and toned arms and legs, with a flat mid-section without a six pack?

Another scenario, even if you have a six pack, how attractive will you be if you don't have cardiovascular fitness and cannot even run on the beach with your friends?"


Image: Shahid Kapoor, the youngest of the lot has also jumped on to the six-pack bandwagon

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